Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Joseph and Mary were God-fearing people. They lived in Nazareth, but they travelled to Jerusalem every year for the feast of the passover. The travel time from Nazareth to Jerusalem was about 30 hours. This would be more than a day’s journey. Joseph and Mary obeyed God’s law and took the time to travel and to be in Jerusalem for the duration of the Passover feast.
God had commanded the nation of Israel to keep the passover every year as a reminder of His powerful deliverance of them from Egyptian bondage. Egypt is a real place and it is also a picture of sin in the Bible. God’s deliverance from Egypt was a picture of the deliverance from sin that is only available through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph and Mary did not understand that Jesus Christ came to fulfil the symbolism of the passover. He was the Passover Lamb Who would go to the cross to shed His blood and die for the sins of man. He would provide forgiveness of sins which the four legged lamb could never do.
Every year Joseph and Mary travelled to Jerusalem for this important feast. At the age of twelve, Jesus went with them to this feast. There are some religious groups who look at this verse and they determine that their children do not need to attend church until they turn twelve. That is not the lesson that God is giving here. Every town of any size would have a synagogue in it. Every Sabbath day was a day when servile work was to cease and there was to be a different emphasis given to that day. Knowing the spiritual character of Joseph and Mary, it can be assumed that they would be involved in studying the Old Testament Scriptures faithfully. There were things regarding Jesus Christ that they did not understand. Mary would be there to witness the cruelty demonstrated toward her son. She would also be at His crucifixion, but would also witness His resurrection.
Verse 43 tells us that the parents stayed for the duration of the feast and then headed back home, assuming that Jesus was in the company with them as they left Jerusalem. They had no reason to believe that Jesus would be a disobedient son who would not follow along with them. They also had no understanding at this time that Jesus’ thoughts were in a different place than their’s were. They would learn that He had very important business to tend to at Jerusalem. It was not that He was arrogant and self-willed as some children are. Jesus Christ was the Son of God and it was natural for Him to want to be with His true Father. He was unique in Who He was and is. John 3 verse 16 points this out to us. Many cults want to deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are fools for doing so and they will one day stand before the Son of God and be judged for their wickedness.
After travelling for a day, Joseph and Mary sought for Jesus and did not find Him to be in the company. Now they needed to leave that group of people and go back to Jerusalem to find out what happened to Jesus. This must have been quite unusual for them. As we noted, Jesus was not a defiant son. He obeyed His parents. How could it be that He did not leave when they left Jerusalem? We see that they did not go to the temple first to look for Him. They spent three days looking for Him. They did not understand the true nature of Jesus Christ.
We read in verse 46 that after three days they found Jesus sitting in the temple in the midst of the doctors. He was there to hear what they had to say and also asking them questions. Jesus demonstrated where the heart of a young person should be. Yes, He was the Son of God. However, a saved child should desire the things of the Lord as well. In fact a saved person should hunger for the things of the Lord. There should be a pulling toward a good church and good fellowship with the Father and the Son and with other saints. That is what I John teaches us.
In verse 47 we see that Jesus’ communication with the doctors was astonishing. Jesus was very well versed in the Scriptures and His answers were quite interesting. We read yesterday that Jesus grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom. Jesus had His ears and His heart tuned to hear from His Heavenly Father. We do not know how much time Joseph spent discussing Old Testament law with Jesus. We know that Jesus Christ is the living Word. He did not learn the Word of God. He was and is the Word of God. As the Son of man, He learned obedience through the things that He faced. However, He knew the Word of God. Thus as He sat in the midst of the doctors, He could ask them questions that a normal twelve year old boy would not be asking. He could also answer them in a way a normal twelve year old boy would not answer.
Verse 48 tells us that Joseph and Mary were amazed when they found Jesus in the temple. They did not find him out playing with other children his age. They found Him among the men who were supposed to be well learned in the Biblical law. Mary rebuked Jesus for what He was doing. They had spent three days looking for Him. They were very concerned about where He was. There must have been some concern for the safety of young people at that time. They never assumed they would find Him in the temple debating with the doctors.
In verse 49 Jesus wondered why they were looking for Him. They knew He was a different child. They should have known He would not be a typical twelve year old boy. He taught them here that He needed to be about His Father’s business.
In the book of I Samuel we learn of Hannah’s plea for a son. She promised to give that son back to God if He would bless her with one. God heard her prayer and blessed her with a son. True to her promise, Hannah gave Samuel back to God after he was weaned. She realized this child was a gift from God, although he was still a full human being. Mary did not seem to grasp the reality of the gift she had been given in Jesus Christ. The reality of Who He was had not yet sunk in to her.
In verse 50 we read that Joseph and Mary did not understand what was going on with Jesus. Joseph had been a twelve year old boy at one time. He certainly did not have the same interest that Jesus had.
In verse 51 we read that Jesus did not argue with Joseph and Mary. He went with them to Nazareth. We read as well that He was subject unto them. He did not regret having to go home with them. He did what they wanted of Him at home. We read as well that Mary took note of what was taking place. She kept all these sayings in her heart. She was building a file of her Son, Jesus. He was different for sure. However, His difference was a good difference, which she did not fully appreciate at this time.
In verse 52 we read that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature. He was developing into that Son of Man that He needed to be. He grew in favour with God and man. He was well respected. No one would look back at Jesus’ youth and accuse Him of being a bad boy. He had a good testimony that would leave Him free to step into His public ministry without anyone accusing Him of being a stumblingblock. He would face many accusations, but all of them would be false.
Jesus was unique. There are testimonies of young people who had a humble heart that was desiring to know the Lord. Samuel seems to have been such a young person. He benefitted greatly from having that tender heart toward the things of the Lord. Samuel did not miss out on anything by not going out and playing with the other boys. He gained much by serving the Lord in the Tabernacle. He was being groomed to be the next prophet/priest of the nation of Israel.
We know it is a rare thing for a young boy to take such a keen interest in the things of the Lord. Godly parents will encourage that pursuit in their sons. It is a good thing if a young person desires to know the truth out of a heart that is right with God. As we learn here, a child that truly knows the Lord will be subject to his parents. They will not be enablers, excusing his sin. They will need to learn how to work in obedience to the Lord in guiding their child in his desire to know the true God and serve Him. There is a great need for spiritually strong men who can lead in homes and churches and society. Too often we as men lack the discernment and the boldness to stand faithfully for the truth. Compromise in the pulpit is a huge problem today. We need to pray for godly pastors and we need to be faithful in our walk with the Lord. We need to lay hold on the truth of Jesus in Matthew 7:14:
Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The strait gate and the narrow way are not attractive to the world. Yet they are the only way to know God’s forgiveness and peace. God draws people to Himself in a different way than the philosophy of the world. Too many pastors are deceived into thinking we need some of the world’s ways in order to get the attention of the world. The Bible teaches we need all of God’s way in order to contrast the empty philosophies of the world. That is what will draw lost sinners to the truth.